Photo essays of visibly distressed landscapes in the urban American West. Our health, and our landscape, is being destroyed by the toxic components of the air pollution we generate. These photo essays, centered mostly in Santa Barbara, CA, and Portland, OR, serve as stark reminders.
On my daily walks
through my surrounding neighborhoods, I keep finding tree and shrub leaves that
look burned, scorched, or cooked. Others have dead-falls of leaves, fruits, or
blossoms. Flowers are droopy and discolored as they sit on the plant.
Many appear to have
been chemically embalmed, or have had their growth and vibrancy suddenly
arrested. The ground is often littered with deeply tanned foliage that is not
Some have dead leaves
or flowers of a deep tan color that are still attached to the tree or plant. Trees
capture air pollution.
The radiant heat from
the sun can act like a furnace, and cook any chemicals from pollution that sits
on exposed foliage. Plants and human are
harmed by air pollution. As well as air pollution, there are natural
causes, and climate change to consider.
The animation below shows the accumulation of fine particulate (PM2.5) after Independence Day fireworks set off on the night of July 4. In addition to the day long pollution from the barbeque grills and holiday car trips.
The timeline begins in the early hours of July 5, with orange and red colored unhealthy levels continuing through the still night. Many of these metro areas in the Midwest, East and Southeast recently had their air basins flushed clean by winds or rain.
Testimonials: Air Quality Advisory Issued For Smoke and Ozone For July 4 Through July 5 Due to Fireworks - Clark County Department of Air Quality (DAQ) is
issuing an advisory that will be in effect from Friday, July 4, through
Saturday, July 5, for potentially elevated levels of smoke and ozone over the
Independence Day holiday due to local fireworks.Air Quality officials say smoke is made of
small dust particles and other pollutants that can aggravate respiratory
diseases and contribute to ground-level ozone formation. Fireworks Caused Louisville to Exceed Air Pollution Standards on July 4 For First Time Since 2010 - “Just by the nature of how the standard works, you’d see a spike, you
could clearly see a lot of PM in the air, on our monitoring data around
9, 10, 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00,” he said. “And then it dissipates as
people go to bed and they stop shooting fireworks off.” Fireworks' 'recreational pollution' makes environmentalists fume - Fourth of July on the Washington Mall, New York Harbor and countless
other cities and towns throughout the US...
... the British medical journal The Lancet
points out the "great consequences for health, especially in periods
with extremely high particulate matter less than PM2.5 in diameter."
For all their dazzling geometry and stirring booms and crackles,
fireworks deliver a smorgasbord of grim chemicals into the skies above.
Perchlorate, the chief propellant, contaminates the ground and water below. It inhibits the thyroid's absorption of iodine...
That brilliant green blossoming above is created with barium nitrate, which is not only radioactive and poisonous...
Blues are made with copper compounds like polychlorinated dioxins...
The brilliant whites sparkling above are most likely brought courtesy of
aluminum compounds, which also bioaccumulate in any living thing below...
Reds can come from lithium, which is toxic and creates irritating fumes when burned, or strontium...
Add to the palette painting the night sky antimony, rubidium, arsenic,
magnesium, potassium nitrate and lead, each producing its twist or effect...
There are also the gaseous by products to be considered. Studies have
found spikes in free radical nitric oxide, the highly toxic nitrogen
dioxide and acid rainmaker sulfur dioxide following firework shows.
Another study found that the ultraviolet light emitted by the flashing
light triggers a burst in ozone levels.
California's Central Valley, a.k.a. The Salad Bowl of the World, also collects and generates enormous amounts of unhealthy ozone and fine particulate pollution. This AIRNow animated map shows a one days cycle of these dangerous pollutants. Just left-of-center near the bottom of the map and just above Los Angeles is the southern edge of the Central Valley. Much of the air entering the valley began as relatively fresh sea air off of the Pacific. As the air traveled through San Fransisco and San Jose, it began picking up pollution from those metro areas then flowed to the bottom of the valley, accumulating more pollutants.The Valley's pollution then spills over the Tehachapi Mountains, the site of many wind turbines, into the high deserts north of Los Angeles. This is a normal cycle of air mixing and pollution generation for this area